4 unique places to sleep
Enjoy sweet dreams in a tepee or safari tent
A hiker’s paradise, heaven for cyclists, culture with a capital C, countless traditional villages and excellent cafés and restaurants with the most delicious regional products on the menu: the Flemish Ardennes region has many assets. Too many to discover in one day. Fortunately, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from, with something for everyone. There are B&Bs with swimming pools and wellness facilities for luxury seekers, and seekers of peace and quiet will find what they are looking for in slow cabins, where they can get away from the world. There are also family-friendly holiday homes and campsites that ooze cosiness. Would you rather travel to the land of Nod in a truly unique room? Here are four unique places to sleep.
1. Sleeping in a tepee: like an Indian at the campsite
You will feel like you are in a real cowboy film when you count sheep at night in one of the teepees on the Provincial Domain De Gavers in Geraardsbergen. They can accommodate 4 or 5 people and have a seating area and kitchenette – everything you will need. You can use the sanitary facilities at the campsite. When the weather is nice, a delicious meal on the picnic table in front of the tent is always a pleasant experience. If you let your imagination run wild, you can even pretend that you hunted your meal with a bow and arrow.
Apart from the original tepees, many other accommodation options exist in the Provincial Domain. The holiday homes are equipped for 4, 6 or 8 people and offer every modern convenience. There are also small wooden chalets that sleep four and offer beds, a table and chairs, minimal cooking facilities and heating. Or you can choose the youth hostel, which welcomes families, schools and larger groups. Campers can stay in the 15 ha four-star campsite or in the camping meadow.
Is there enough to do in De Gavers to spend more than one day there? Listing all the activities would already take fifteen minutes. When the weather is nice, you can cool down in the swimming pond, build sandcastles with your kids or get in shape with a round of beach volleyball. If the weather gods are not agreeable, you can go to the covered swimming pool Het Gaversbad for a refreshing splash. And that’s not all, Het Gaversbad also offers high-quality wellness facilities, including saunas, plunge pools and steam baths. Meanwhile, young swimmers can have fun on the exciting water slide. What else can you do in De Gavers? Battle your family or friends in a laser-shooting session, have fun paddling on the pond in a pedal boat, conquer a climbing wall, enjoy a game of miniature golf, and so on. Of course, you can also take lovely walks on the immense domain. All paths around the pond are paved, so buggies and wheelchairs can also come along. And true sports enthusiasts are in for a treat here. From a challenging mountain bike course to training one’s arm muscles on a kayak or rowing adventure – it’s all possible.
2. ‘Thuisbuizen’: counting sheep in a drainage pipe
Are you looking for something more adventurous? Then the ‘Thuisbuizen’ at Donkvijver in Oudenaarde are something for you. What is that? On the grounds of The Outsider adventure park in Oudenaarde, 24 drainage pipes have been converted into sleeping units. Adults sleep alone in a tube; children can comfortably spend the night in pairs. You also get a cosy garden, a beautiful, covered pavilion with benches and tables, and a barbecue and fridge. It is the perfect operating base for families or groups of friends. Pack your sleeping bag, pillow and sleeping mat and wake up in the middle of nature.
Do you prefer to spend the night under a roof? Then you can stay in the nearby Swamp House, again ideal for families, a large group of friends, colleagues or a school outing. There are six basic but comfortable dormitories suitable for teams or groups of 72 people in total. With free Wi-Fi everywhere and two conference rooms with beamers, it’s perfect for team building. If you rent two rooms or more, you can also use the multi-purpose room with a kitchen. Those who don’t want to cook can rely on the catering service or grab a bite to eat in Den Dronk. When the weather is nice, you can light the barbecue and enjoy a beautiful view of the pond.
While staying in the Swamp House or ‘Thuisbuizen’, you won’t be bored for a second in The Outsider. You can conquer the Blue Diamond climbing tower, get in shape on a kayak outing, or enjoy a session of wakeboarding or water skiing. Have you heard of the old sport bolletra? It’s kind of a mix between pétanque and kubb, and you can test whether this will become your favourite new leisure activity. Clever minds can try the Tour of Flanders-themed escape room. And let’s not forget the death ride over the pond. You can take care of that fear of heights right away.
3. Camping in a luxurious safari tent
Do you enjoy camping but do not want to throw all luxury out the window? Then the safari tents at De Ijsmolenhoeve in Ronse are an ideal compromise. They can accommodate 8 people and are equipped with their own kitchen, cooking utensils and a bathroom with a shower and toilet. They also come with three bunk beds and one double bed. You can also spend the night in a lodge (9 people), a group tent (16 people), two luxury lodges (8 people), five gipsy caravans (4 people) or a holiday home (22 people). You can enjoy the golden hour and a magical sunset while having a delicious dinner or cosy barbecue on the large wooden patio. To make it even cosier, the campfire is lit while live music can be heard in the background. Your kids can enjoy themselves in the large garden and playground. You can also enjoy a royal breakfast thanks to the extensive breakfast buffet.
De Ijsmolenhoeve is an architectural gem from the 15th century. The domain has a petting zoo and adventure park, making it the ideal setting for an action-filled weekend. The climbing tower, death ride and high ropes course are great activities for a family outing, an afternoon with friends or a team building session with colleagues. If the day is not over after all these activities, you can call up your inner agent with a game of laser tag or overcome your claustrophobia in the narrow corridors of a SpeleoBox. You may be able to empty beer crates, but have you tried stacking them sky-high? Well, you can learn that here too. Have you always dreamed of participating in the hugely popular TV show De Mol (The Mole)? That’s also an option with your friends. Staff at De Ijsmolenhoeve can organise tailor-made activities for every group.
4. To the land of Nod in a ‘pod’ amongst the trees
You might think it’s a kind of spaceship, but a ‘pod’ is actually the fancy name for a luxurious cabin. You will find it at B&B De Groene Weg in Brakel, which has been awarded three stars. The sleeping units amongst the trees have every modern convenience: they are heated and lit, and your bed is made every morning. In the separate sanitary area, each ‘pod’ has its own bathroom. There is also a communal kitchenette and a picnic area. It is the ideal place to sleep if you want to become one with nature and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
If you prefer something more traditional, you can also spend the night in the farmhouse. You can choose between four rooms, each with a spotless bathroom. Here, too, you wake up with a view of nature. After a good night’s sleep, it’s time to taste all the regional delicacies at the breakfast buffet.
The restored farmhouse is the perfect operating base for exploring Brakel and the wider region. A walk along the babbling water of the charming Zwalm River is an absolute must. Or discover the former railway that brought workers from the region to the coal mines in Hainaut. Today, the Miners’ Trail is a car-free hiking and cycling path that takes you to Verrebeekmolen in Opbrakel, among other places. By the way, you can still buy freshly ground flour at the mill.
Are you still wondering whether a multi-day visit to the Flemish Ardennes is worthwhile? Besides being a paradise for cycling enthusiasts – with the Tour of Flanders Centre in Oudenaarde – it’s also the perfect destination for a family outing. At Domain de Ghellinck in Wortegem-Petegem, a green oasis of 28 ha, you can take lovely walks along the various paths that are easily accessible by wheelchair or buggy. Speaking of walking, the region is ideal for a few days of complete relaxation. Its unspoilt nature, beautiful greenery, breathtaking views, and silence make it the perfect destination to recharge your batteries and regain some energy. So cast all your doubts aside and book your holiday now!
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